Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tikkun: Over the Edge

As a lifelong liberal, Tikkun sounded attractive to me when I first heard about it years ago. As the years go by, unfortunately, Tikkun seems to go further and further from any rational perspective.

Judging by the email I received on Friday, Tikkun's founder, Michael Lerner, has clearly gone over the edge.

It's one thing to believe, however irrationally, that it is in Israel's best interest to make far-reaching and unreciprocated concessions to its Arab enemies. The Oslo Disaster has certainly proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, that such concessions are counterproductive, but one can still hold unreasonable views in good faith.

The same cannot be said of Lerner's maligning Israel's rather mild and clearly insufficient defensive measures, recently taken in Gaza, as state terrorism and equating them with the brutal terror attacks that have been the mainstay of the Palestinian Arabs.

There is a lesson in Lerner's de facto anti-Israel diatribe, however, albeit not the one he intended. The fact that someone who has adopted the Arab's anti-Israel propaganda as his own was not that long ago denied participation in an anti-war rally because he was considered a Zionist demonstrates how irredentist Israel's enemies are.

Clearly, peace is impossible as long as the Palestinian Arabs continue to choose Hamas and terrorism. Israel continues to have no choice but to defend itself. Ironically, when Israel defends itself, as it briefly did recently when it went into Hamastan, it acts not only in the interests of its own citizens, but for the benefit of the Palestinian Arabs as well.

Here are Lerner's incredible words:

Murders at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem
by Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun

Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives unequivocally condemn the killings of students at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem today. Just as last week we prayed for a speedy recovery of Israelis and Palestinians wounded in the fighting in Gaza and the bombings of Sderot, so today we pray for a speedy recovery for those who were injured in this ghastly attack. The wounds of two thousand years of exile and the holocaust are inevitably restimulated by this kind of attack, and tragically the price will likely be paid by Palestinian civilians, who in turn will fight back and then the price will be paid by other Israelis. Thus the seemingly endless cycle of violence will continue.

We at Tikkun feel equally grieving for the people killed by vicious and immoral terrorists at the Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav (the ultra-nationalist religious center that developed the ideology which inspired religious Zionists to believe that they had a God-given right to settle and hold on to the territories without regard to the consequences for the Palestinian people already living there) as we do for the victims of Israeli terror (which in the past week killed 120 people, many of them children, many of them sitting in their homes when Israeli troops randomly fire-bombed and murdered them, as documented by the same international human rights organizations that today condemned the attack in Jerusalem by terrorists). We understand that these killings can only be understood in the context of the 60 year old struggle between these two communities, and that nothing short of a full peace accord that will require a new open-heartedness on both sides can possibly break this horrible cycle of violence. We have no sympathy for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah or those in Israel who advocate violence as a solution or those in the military who announced that they were going to implement a Shoa on the Palestinian people in Gaza, or any of the extremists in the Palestinian world or the Israeli world who seek to disrupt and derail any movement toward peace.

We similarly mourn the people in Sderot and Ashkelon terrorized by bombs from Hamas, as we did for those people who die in the Gaza and West Bank areas because the check points prevent them from getting to the doctors they need, and the many children suffering from malnutrition because of Israel's slow starvation of the country and cutting off of supplies. Of course there is no "moral equivalency" here, because as Talmud and other religious and spiritual traditions teach, every single life lost is a unique tragedy, and no life lost can be compared to or the loss justified in terms of the life lost of others.

From our standpoint, all violence, whether overt or built into the institutions of economic and political reality, is a sin and unacceptable, whether done by the powerful or the powerless. Violence is the wrong path. So this week in Beyt Tikkun synagogue we will say kaddish for the young men killed at the yeshivat ha rav, and for the people killed in Gaza by Israeli troops, Israelis killed in Sderot and Ashkelon, and for the million two hundred thousand Iraqis killed by the US occupation of Iraq and the 4000 American soldiers killed in that war. And all the victims of wars in Africa and Asia, all the victims of oppression and murder in China and Tibet, all the victims of oppression in Saudi Arabia and Iran and Lebanon and Syria and Egypt.

When will they ever learn? Violence doesn't solve anything. It doesn't create safety. The way to security is through a. recognizing "the other" as part of you, not an alien but as a fundamental part of "the unity of all being" created in the image of God and deserving just as much as we deserve, and entitled to live at the same standard of living and with the same political rights as we have and receiving the same compassion we would give to our friends; b. the Strategy of Generosity that we in the US have to initiate and the Global Marshall Plan that makes it concrete (see; and c. public acts of repentance and atonement that both sides need to take to acknowledge the cruelty and hurt that they have visited on the other side.

Till that happens the killings will go on, and the partisans on each side will always blame the other, and each will ignore the history that has led to the specific act of violence that they are focused on, and each will proclaim that any one who does not side exclusively with their side is a traitor and an evil person.

All this talk, though, doesn't really reveal how much those of us in the Tikkun community are grieving for all the pain and suffering, how deeply sad and depressed it makes us, and how very much we wish we could ease the suffering on all sides of this struggle. May all of them be comforted along with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and the whole world!

1 comment:

There is NO Santa Claus said...

I'm sure the Saudi Petrochemical Lobby loves Rabbi Lerner.